Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Jun 30, 2013 02:40 PM

Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder

Hi Everyone!
I just bought a 7.13 pork shoulder (picnic) bone in. I want to make pulled pork using my slow cooker. How long should I cook it for? I've read various times between 7-10 hours low. What is your take on timing?... Also it has a huge chunk of fat at the bottom of it. Do I keep it on? and is it placed fat side up or down? I'm using the recipe I found on here, which calls for chicken broth, onions and garlic at the bottom with meat placed on top rubbed with brown sugar, cinnamon, cumin, chili powder, salt. The recipe called for a smaller shoulder so I'm not sure what time to follow. Thanks!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. That fat I believe is commonly called the fat cap, and if you decide to leave it on, you should definitely leave it on top, so that it bastes your meat as it slowly melts during the cooking process. Whether you leave it on or take it off is up to you. Obviously, having all that fat will add flavor, but (obviously) it does add fat and calories. And it will add a lot of grease to the resultant broth, but you can always refrigerate it overnight and remove the pork fat, and use it for soup stock. The choice is up to you.

    I don't use a slow cooker, only a pressure cooker, but if you could post a link to the recipe you're talking about, maybe I could help you figure out how long to cook it. Or at least someone who made the recipe would know which specific one you were talking about and provide further guidance from their own experience.

    17 Replies
    1. re: ePressureCooker

      I found another recipe that used a 7lb in the slow cooker and cooked it for about 8 hours. I think I'm just going to cook it for 7 hours and then start checking on it. I kinda want to take the huge chunk of skin off, but if I do that the fat comes off with it too. Is there enough fat in this cut of meat to keep it flavorful/moist?

      1. re: garcherry725

        The main thing here is that the picnic needs to hit about 195 to 200 internal temp in order to pull. And a common statement is, "it's done when it's done." Having said that, I would give you an estimate if I knew what temp the slow cooker maintained. At 225, it will take about 8 to 10 hours. Slide it up or down, accordingly. I would remove the skin, but keep as much fat as possible, and place it fat cap up. It will melt off, as EPC said (Hi EPC!). Hope that helps.

        1. re: garcherry725

          I make pork shoulder and pork butt A LOT (I love pork, I love Mexican food) and I can guarantee you there is enough fat in that meat without the fat cap. You can take the skin off by itself, you can take the whole fat cap off, whatever you want to do. The meat will be fine. Pork shoulder is a whole different experience than something like pork loin, which is much leaner and drier and not nearly as tasty to eat (IMHO). In fact, next shoulder I make I'm going to take the fat cap off to make porchetta. ;D

          I would also recommend if you are willing, and have time, to shred the pork by hand, rather than using forks. That's a great opportunity to remove any remaining connective tissues that didn't melt during cooking, and any large pieces of fat that remain in the meat (if you, or your guests, want to lessen the calories). Its much easier to identify what should be removed if you handle the meat as you shred it.

          (P.S. Hi, Woodburner!)

          1. re: ePressureCooker

            +1 on everything EPC said... we have a little fan club going over here....

            1. re: woodburner

              haha, ok I will definitely take EPC's advice then! So I wound up removing the skin and was able to keep a thin layer of fat over it. I just put it in the slow cooker, fat side up, and set it for 7hrs on low. If the meat isn't pulling yet, then I'll leave it for a bit more. I'm not sure what temp the slow cooker maintains...its the Crock Pot brand if that's any help.

                1. re: woodburner

                  Sorry for not responding sooner! I pulled the pork out at 7 hours and it was PERFECT! Soooo yummy!! I actually had to review this post again since I am now doing another shoulder, a little bit smaller, so I will just put it on low for 6hrs. Funny thing with the timing...I put a 10lb in the crockpot a few weeks ago, set it on low for 8hrs and it turned out kinda bad. Parts of it were really tough. Not sure what happened. So hopefully this time around it's just as good as my first attempt. Thanks for the help!!

                  1. re: garcherry725

                    I do think your meat thermometer is your friend :) It's not the time but the temp. 190 is what's best in my opinion.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      But it takes time for collagen to dissolve into gelatin. Just raising a tough cut of meat (and pork shoulder is relatively tough) to 190° isn't enough. It has to stay there for a while.

                      1. re: Soul Vole

                        So I just pulled the pork out. I had it cook on low for 6 hrs and then it stayed on the warming setting for about a hour and half. Part of it is a little tough...mainly the top part which was the fat side. The bottom portion was falling off the bone with no problem. I'll try a meat thermometer next time. Should I have left it in longer? or maybe put fat side down?

                        1. re: Soul Vole

                          That's not been my experience. By the time it gets to that temp, it's coming apart in pieces and the bone, if any, lifts right out. Here's an article:


                          1. re: c oliver

                            From the article: "Denaturation of the collagen molecule is a kinetic process, and hence a function of both temperature and duration of heating. Cooking at low temperatures require long periods of time to liquify collagen."

                            1. re: Soul Vole

                              Yep. But connective tissue/collagen starts breaking down at 160. So my experience of it being perfectly done at 190 still holds. YMMV.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                Agree... hits that plateau around 165-170, and sits there for a while while the collagen breaks down, then goes back on the rise. I like to go 195-200.

                                1. re: woodburner

                                  I've been having this discussion about the plateau/stall. Was just sent this very interesting article that gives a different perspective on what causes the plateau. It points to evaporation using up the energy.


            2. re: garcherry725

              After meat is done. Cut thick skin off and put the skin slices under broiler. Crisp it up like bacon...keep an eye on it. Cooks quick

          2. I've cooked somewhat smaller pork shoulders in the SC for about 10 hours. I'd cut any skin off but leave the fat cap at the top. Don't overdo the liquid.

            Frankly, I don't think you have to time this to the second. When the meat is falling off the bone and shreddable, it is ready.

            2 Replies
            1. re: tcamp

              But you can overcook. I think hitting 190 is right. But I've only done that size pork shoulder in a DO in the oven. I have a big slow cooker but not THAT big.

              1. re: c oliver

                Yeah, I'm not sure what sort of SC would fit that piece o'pork. I am sure you are right about it being possible to overcook. When I'm making pulled pork, I do the SC, then shred and mix with a little bit of sauce, then bake to get some crispy edges. So maybe I'm not the best judge of overcooked.

                Using a thermapen or equivalent is a good idea.

            2. I recently attempted pulled pork via slow cooker (after scouring the site and seeing many different methods!). I did a dry rub - wrapped in saran wrap, and put it in the fridge overnight. When it came to the slow cooker, I considered adding onions to the base but opted not to. Nor did I add liquid. I put it on low for 8 hours and ended up with juices from the pork about 1/3 of the way up the shoulder. I was glad I didn't add any additional liquid! I also ended up reducing the liquid on the stove and added a touch of it back into the pulled pork.

              For any meat cut, I always put the fattiest side up (as others have mentioned, so the fat bastes the meat as it cooks.

              5 Replies
              1. re: The Oracle

                I've never understood putting much liquid into a SC with pork shoulder. Maybe a quarter cup of tequila!

                1. re: c oliver

                  I don't know about a SC, but for my pressure cooker, I usually put a little bit of broth, maybe a few tablespoons of wine or other alcohol, and other seasonings in with my pork shoulder / pork butt. Not much, but a bit.

                    1. re: ePressureCooker

                      A pressure cooker has to have a certain amount of liquid to make the steam that raises the pressure, but it's not a huge amount, and the meat will release some juices as well.

                      1. re: ellabee

                        True. I like to let the meat cool down in the cooking juices so hopefully it'll reabsorb some of them and stay moist, but whatever is left over, I strain it, and use it to cook beans, make soup, whatever I feel like. Its always delicious. ;D

                2. I rub overnight and put on indirect charcoal for maybe an hour and a half and then in the LC French oven with a small amount of vinegar-based sauce

                  When its cooked, I defat the sauce and mix it back into the meat.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    Are you perhaps talking about pulled pork? That doesn't seem to be OPs intent.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Pretty sure pulled pork IS OP's intent -- first sentence. :)

                      1. re: DuchessNukem

                        My apology! I missed that. I just read all the ingredients and didn't see the pulled pork reference.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          It's so easy to get caught up in drooling on the recipe that I get lost sometimes too. Is all good and tasty. :)

                  2. The original comment has been removed